M'Aithair (My Father)

The brass flickers a reflected halo in seamless time with the slow sway of your shoulders as you play. (Trumpet players are like that, you tell me.) A-minor-seventh echoes through my bones as you drop into the bridge of "Walkin' After Midnight."

Later, you will crack a beer, lean back in your chair
And quiz us about the capitals of Mozambique, Ecuador, Mongolia, and Peru.
Five dollars to the winner.

These are the days I remember.

The Chevy's hood yawns open with flashing teeth of the grille and the orange tongue of big block 350 valve covers. You have eight hundred and forty ways of calling that truck a whore.

The heater core spews antifreeze across the lawn
Curse number eight hundred and forty-one.

This is a day I remember.

Windows smeared with Cocker Spaniel slobber glitter in the pink rays of the sun as it sets. You drop it into first and floor it; tires spin; the nose stands still while the back end comes around and around and around. We scream but later laugh about doing donuts by the river, our clothes dripping from an impromtu swim.

Maternal dirty looks abound; we recount how we found
The kitten at the dump and how
You let us keep it even though you hate cats.

These were the days of laughter.

Gravel underfoot rings louder than ever the last time you came home from that job. Twenty-five years was too long to spend, too much... not enough, damn it! They never saw you storming across the yard, trying hard not to let us see the chinks in your armor.

Another Monday, another job Six years -- seven, is it, now? -- go by in a couple of minutes
After I have started to move on my own.

But I remember.

Seven years, seven days. (What's the difference, anyway?) You pick Pittsburgh and I say New Orleans and we try not to think about what this means or that means or what our lives would have come to if we added it up on a calculator (not so good at math -- it's in the genes).